Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan unexpectedly resigned last week, citing medical reasons. His replacement as interim chief stepped down two days later. The turmoil in the department comes in the midst of two reports critical of Oakland police. One report from a court-ordered overseer finds OPD out of compliance with federally mandated reforms from a decade-old police brutality case. Another report, by law enforcement consultant William Bratton, is critical of the department’s ability to reduce crime. Forum takes up these issues with the newly appointed Interim Police Chief Sean Whent and others.

Interview Highlights

Sean Whent, interim police chief of the Oakland Police Department
Matthai Kuruvila, Oakland City Hall reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle
John Burris, civil rights attorney representing the family of Oscar Grant III, killed by a BART police officer
Libby Schaaf, District 4 council member at the Oakland City Council
Geoff Collins, former member, Oakland Community Policing Advisory Board

  • QuanBeyondVile

    Let’s not forget that an Occupy protester, Scott Olsen, was hit in the head with a beanbag shot at high speed by a homicidal cop and was nearly killed, and that no one at Oakland PD has been punished for that crime.

    “[Mayor Jean] Quan told me she realizes I have a chip on my shoulder. Insulting, more like a broken skull and brain trauma.”

    — Scott Olsen (@OlsenVet) March 7, 2013

  • Livegreen

    Judge Henderson said in an interview on KQED that the NSA has had no negative impact on policing in Oakland, even though half of Oakland Investigators are investigating an ever diminishing # of Officers fleeing Oakland, leaving too few Investigators and Police to investigate murders, rapes, child prostitution and other violent crime.

    At the urging of Mr. Burris, Judge Henderson even mandated the investigation of hundreds of online complaints against OPD’s handling of Occupy Oakland, including by people who weren’t present, all taking precedent over crimes against Oakland citizens.

    All this with a Police Department that due to City Council cuts and lowest-in-the nation staffing can’t solve more than 30% of murders, is reported to have investigators covering robbery cases in the hundreds to 10,000, doesn’t have a functioning crime lab to process hundreds of rape kits and can’t even do basic fingerprinting.

    On the other side is a Mayor who’s says her most recent budget says is pro-police (not long after she voted to cut police) but simultaneously proposes staffing that is 100 Officers short of pre-recession levels AND her own publicly declared baseline minimum.

    One has to wonder: HOW is the new Chief and OPD going to meet the NSA and help the rest of Oakland’s citizens get relief from crime? How are they going to keep OPD Officers from bleeding out of the City costing many times the $ to rehire and replace?

    I know two things:
    –Judge Henderson and John Burris will deny ANY criticism or responsibility for the monster they helped create, as they live out their half-century old delusions from the 60’s;
    –The legacy of Judge Henderson and John Burris are tied to the 1960’s and $$. NOT to helping the citizens of Oakland.

    I hope they’re pleased with themselves and with the death and destruction they’ve created, while the rest of us & those we know are victimized by murder, rape, prostitution (including children), robbery, burglary, assault and on and on.

    (Just heard shots, got to go call 911…seriously).

    • erictremont

      Your observations are 100% on target and I have no doubt they are accurate. Unfortunately, the S.F. Chronicle and East Bay Express newspapers simply don’t bother to mention these inconvenient facts, as they run contrary to the dominant media narrative that the Oakland PD is full of redneck racist cops who deserve to be micro-managed by a Federal judge, never mind the consequences for the victims of violent crime.

      • Guest

        They’re not?

    • thucy

      Oakland’s troubled Police Department is a microcosm of the failures of the U.S. “war on drugs” that created gangs, cartels, and more crime than even the syphillis-ridden Al Capone could have imagined.
      The crappy Compstat-driven police departments of the 21st-century have destroyed traditional police procedurals, and opened the doors for every two-bit hack in the PD to play Harvey Keitel in “The Bad Lieutenant.”
      No sympathy here for CA’s grotesquely overpaid cops.

      • erictremont

        Compstat and other modern crime-fighting techniques have helped save countless numbers of lives. In NYC, there are 10,000 or so young black or Hispanic men who are alive today who would have been homicide victims had it not been for the implementation of aggressive policing tactics.

        • thucy

          That’s the official line, Eric, promoted heavily by the prison-industrial complex that feeds off the “war on drugs”.
          But ask NYPD beat cops what they make of Compstat. It’s a fraud. Ask federal judges what they think of compstat and mandatory sentencing. It’s s fraud.

        • thucy

          Compstat = giant leech sucking off blood of taxpayer.

      • QuanBeyondVile

        There were gangs long before there was the war on drugs.

        Gangs are a form of primitive tribalism that becomes entrenched in modern society and resists civilization.

        Gangs come about because their participants are dumb macho youths who are often racist against every other ethnic group, and are frequently latent-homosexual misogynist know-nothings.

  • Not credible

    Why has no one mentioned OPD’s massive salary package that prevents the department from actually staffing up to reasonable levels? The city spends over 40% on policing to the expense of other city services.

    OPD is the only police department in the country to have federal reforms drag on this long. Why is that?

    It’d also be nice to hear from callers who aren’t part of Montclair political organizations or hill-dwellers who are perpetually terrified of the brown and black folks down below….

    • thucy

      Krasny, thank you for asking the first part of this guy’s question on-air.
      Starting PD Salaries in SF were twice NYC’s in 2010. Oakland starting salaries close to SF.

  • Gus

    Great hard-hitting journalism, you sycophantic radio host.
    There was absolutely no question raised of what causes police abuse. Instead we had more of an extended P.R. stunt advertising O.P.D. as hoping to be more Constitutional. Well hope is not good enough. O.P.D. structurally allows for abuse and just because leadership blames it on the “subordinates” does not mean they are not responsible.

    • QuanBeyondVile

      This video may help you understand what makes cops psychos:

  • Tony Rocco

    Oakland needs a tougher approach to law enforcement than it currently
    has. If New York City can transform itself into the safest large city
    in the country when at one time it was one of the most dangerous and
    violent, so can Oakland, at a fraction the size. When Jerry Brown was
    mayor of Oakland, he understood that the key to economic growth is
    getting a handle on violent crime. Until crime is dramatically reduced,
    Oakland will never prosper.


    • thucy

      NYPD could transform because at half the starting salary of SF and Oakland cops, IT COULD AFFORD ENOUGH COPS.
      Being a cop is the 10th most dangerous job in the US, after garbage collectors at #9. No reason for them to earn so much salary, overtime, pension spiking.

      • Kenji Yamada

        If you’re assessing how dangerous it is to be a cop in order to assess how much cops in Oakland should be paid, you should probably assess how dangerous it is to be a cop in Oakland, not the average level of danger for all cops in all US communities.

  • ami zins

    Cops & Robbers is a one-man play opening this weekend at the
    Lakeside Theater in Oakland. Cops &
    Robbers takes a revolutionary
    look into the relationship between law enforcement, the media, and the

    This is a play for anyone
    who wants to improve the quality of life in the community, anyone who is
    interested in a solution rather than in just winning the debate.

    Its written and performed by Jinho “The Piper” Ferreira, a rapper
    with the critically acclaimed alternative hip hop band Flipsyde, actor, award winning screenwriter, and East Bay law
    enforcement officer and directed by Lew
    Levinson and Ami Zins.

    Piper flawlessly plays all 16 characters weaving together the
    stories behind the crimes in our community, the way law enforcement reacts, and
    the way the media spins the news.

    Hodari Davis, National
    Director of Youth Speaks said of the show, “Seeing Cops & Robbers will
    definitely motivate people to take action in their communities.”

    Rotary is sponsoring a limited # of
    tickets for youth and their mentors from organizations such as Youth Uprising,
    Youth Radio, Youth Alive! And others. There
    are going to be panel discussions following both Saturday matinees including
    representatives of violence prevention programs.

    Tickets are available at http://copsandrobbers2013.brownpapertickets.com/

    Anyone interested in inquiring about
    tickets for violence prevention/diversion programs can get in touch with copsandrobbersplay@gmail.com

  • Chemist150

    My car was stolen in Oakland. I later saw someone driving it and I followed them. I sat down the street from the house they went into to see if they would take the car elsewhere. When I left, I was followed. I made a quick lane change and turned left and they continued to abruptly follow me. I pulled over and they stopped behind me and thankfully, left. I continued home and called the police when they showed up in front of my house since they knew where they had stolen the car. They stopped and pointed to my rental car I had been in.

    I told the police where they lived, which security cameras they had been taped on with the car. I did their job for them and the police could not complete it.

    • QuanBeyondVile

      It’s your property. Just take it back at 2:45am when everyone is asleep.

      • Chemist150

        They disposed of it after they caught on to my surveillence.

  • I worked for Tom Frazier as a Justice Department Fellow when he was Director of COPS. Under his leadership, the commitment to community policing flourished. I helped him evaluate 96 Community Policing grants in the United States. He is one of the best. He has been a community policing leader and champion for many years. As Commissioner of Baltimore PD he initiated many local projects so community and the department could work together as a team. Not an easy task.
    Andrea Schneider

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